Saturday, January 31, 2009
Early Siberian Iris History
Siberian Iris have a limited early history in Hybridising. It maybe interesting to collectors of historic Irises that, only 157 Siberian Irises were recorded up to and including the year 1960 by the AIS checklists. Of these according to the AIS 1939 Checklist only 20 Siberian hybrids were in commerce or registered before 1920.(not including species) Some entries in the 1939 Checklist are not listed in the Cumulative Check List of Siberian Irises Some Irises catalogued by commercial growers do not appear in either Checklist so the above figures can only be considered provisional but give a reasonable indication the limited size of early Siberian plant breeding history when compared to Tall Bearded Iris over the same era.
An Example of checklist problems includes the above Photo and the Show information below and is courtesy of the British Iris Society Year Book 1937.
Iris Society's Show 1937,List of Trophies and Medals Awarded other than for new Seedlings, Lady Byng of Vimy was awarded The Spender Challenge Trophy for Iris Sibirica Division V (class16) 6 varieties of Iris sibirica and/or Iris orientalis and their hybrids not more than 12 spikes each vase.
Varieties in the prize winning exhibit of Viscountess Byng are as follows, Thorpe Aquamarine, Thorpe Azure, Thorpe Glory, Thorpe Purple, Thorpe Sapphire, Thorpe Turquoise.
All of these varieties are listed in the 1939 AIS check list, but not listed in Cumulative Check List of Siberian Irises, yet they are well documented.
Varieties prefix is in reference to Thorpe Hall, Thorpe-le-Soken, England. Described as a plant and shrub garden covering about 12 hectares, laid out between 1913 and 1945 with formal and informal features including lawns, pools and lakes, rock garden, rose garden and sunken garden developed by the owner, Lady Byng, from 1913 onwards. Garden still exists and should some enterprising Historic Iris enthusiast take the time could find the above varieties still growing in the grounds today. Happy Hunting
Iris plant History will always be a work in progress and will never be considered definitive.